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Moving money

I had a meeting with our financial advisor today.

This is a rare thing — once a year, at best.

As I drove today for this visit, it was with a question in mind: how do we invest ethically?

This year, Kendra and I took the steps to move away from RBC, to have our money at our local credit union, Valley First. Partly it was to not get charged fees. But the big motivation was to keep our money local, and be part of a membership-based cooperative finance movement where our finances become part of bettering the local economy. (I may have been heavily influence by the lovely films and promotional materials from my friends who work in the credit union space, like this one you’ve seen: Some Choices Matter.)

This week, we finally completed the last step: moving over our mortgage from RBC. It had come to its five-year renewal term, and we took that window and got it moved over. Paperwork, meetings, notaries, signing things, meeting with all four of our kids in a small credit union office: and we got it done.

So what about our investments? It’s not a lot. It’s two RRSPs, two TFSAs, and and RESP. But still, it’s working while we’re not looking, and contributing to something. What is it working on?

In truth, I’m not sure if I agree with investing in the stock market, the more I think about it. It means I’m a shareholder, and I am letting my money put pressure on organizations to be motivated for short-term gain. I am voting with my wallet to ask companies to be scouting for profit opportunities, instead of maximizing for well-being, staying local, held accountable to my own values and ethics.

I asked my financial advisor what he thought: “It’s just capitalism,” he said. “Just the nature of human greed.”

That might be the case, today. But what is the vision of tomorrow we can help create?

Today, my financial advisor can’t point to any local, ethical funds to invest in. He says that the attempts at ethical funds have been low performers.

I say, it may mean we have to find, create and share some alternatives the begin to model new ways of co-creating a shared future.

I know in many ways, I am quite late to the game here.

I think of the Domain7 documentary my teammate Trevor directed, A New Economy. You can watch it on Netflix. It’s all about emerging movements of cooperative organizations.

I was learning this month about ESOPs: employee-share ownership programs. The chance for employees to invest in the companies they actually work for.

I found this the work of Jaclyn Saorsail, who is exploring a concept called Coism. I watched only part of her YouTube lecture, flipped through her Prezi presentation, and I’m seeing themes here that hint that there are new models possible for organizing ourselves.

I want to be part of things like that.

I want to be part of a community that is ready to try new ways of working, cooperatively. For maximizing human well-being.

Why not?